Tuesday, June 09, 2020


UPDATE: Judge Don Cohn has passed away. We do not know the details but we have triple confirmed it. 

They took it to the streets yesterday by the REGJB. A bunch of lawyers showing up after their mid-afternoon Pilates class and before their 8pm Zoom gin and tonic hour with friends. In between, according to David Ovalle's twitter, with a h/t to Phil Reizenstein who apparently attended and was videoing the event, as well as some other video clips sent directly to us, the lawyers marched, and chanted- including a jazzy "hey hey..ho ho..KFR must go" in front of the SAO as old, white, male, SAO investigators looked on with a bemused look on their faces at times.  No trash cans were set on fire, but some lawyers did recycle their water bottles. 
The most important thing is that members of the legal community- old and young, male and female, black, white and Hispanic, showed solidarity with a movement that is changing the country and maybe the world. 

Which brings us to the Defund The Police movement. Initially we were opposed because we did not understand it. But the more we think about it, the more we think the idea has merit. In our view defunding the police does not mean shutting the police department down. What it really means is moving funds for community involvement and responses to non-dangerous issues to a different group. 

We cannot count the times a distressed family has shown up in our office recounting a story where they called the police because of an issue and the cops ended up arresting one (or more) of them. If we think about it, it was normally an African-American family and white cops. The fact is that many police officers get burned out. They end up resenting parts of the community they serve and they take their anger out on innocent people that have very little ability to fight back. 

Missing child or wandering grandparent. Loud music from the neighbors. Environmental complaints. Identity theft. Stolen or vandalized cars. Graffiti. These problems do not need armed officers responding. A different community resource department can handle them. This will go a long way to defusing the resentment between the police and the citizens they serve by removing points of contact that simply have not worked for the last 50 plus years.

The second issue is to remove Internal Affairs Investigations from the Police Department and authorize a Citizen Review Board staffed by citizens, prosecutors, defense attorneys and law enforcement. Much like the JNC has lawyers and non-lawyers making judicial recommendations to the governor. A CRB would employ investigators and make recommendations for criminal or departmental prosecutions. And if the case were to go to court, much like the State established a series of Regional Counsel Offices to handle PD conflicts, the State should establish a separate prosecutors office to handle public corruption and police prosecutions. It is a conflict of interest for a prosecutor's office to work hand-in-hand with police officers on 98% of their cases, and prosecute police officers in the other 2% (or whatever the number is) of cases. 

These are our thoughts. Have at it. And take it to the streets when you have a chance. And recycle those water bottles you take with you. And ease off those gin and tonics at night. But we are in favour of Pilates classes. 


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Anonymous said...

Defunding the police is not as crazy as you think and is long overdue. Here is where we need to do some real dicing and slicing:
1. Overtime.
2. Pensions based on a % of your 3 best years.
3. Administrative/overhead. Most cops do not spend their time being, well, cops. Sort of like teachers.
4. Vacation/sick time that converts into a cash payout upon retirement.
This is not specific to our PD's down here but is a nationwide problem. And, oh yeah, the biggest special interest/boondoogle/goodfellas clique of them all: police unions, omnipresent at every county commission/city commission/legislative committee hearing with hat in hand.

Anonymous said...

We all need to make sure that we do not allow the horror of George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis to overshadow the fact that three officers stood there and watched, without interfering, while the fourth officer killed that poor man in a humiliatingly cruel fashion. When folks talk about how not all cops are bad, they need to keep in mind that cops are not Black, cops are not Latin, cops are not White. Cops are Blue and too many will observe or participate in illegality and neither report it nor intervene. They will also allow their fellow officers to write out misstated facts on A forms. Also, remember that the killer was a training cop who was training at least two of these young guys.
So, if you might be interested in some friendly amendments,
1. The investigative group would be trained professionals, not a sprinkling of different folks that represent separate interests. We need professional investigators and professional detectives, and these folks should report completely outside the command structure. It should be like a JQC.
2. Careful attention should be paid to training regimens and psychological clearance of police officers. Attention should also be paid to close familial relationships between cops and recruits.
3. We should arrange, as a cop is approaching retirement, say for at least five years, for the officers to have shifts adjusted so that they have blocks of time like firemen do to develop other business interests so that they can move into retirement with an opportunity to provide additional support for themselves.
' 4. We need to insist on police officers having college degrees, and that they have psychological training. The current system which encourages dick measuring between cops and suspects is not helpful. We need older cops at the entry level. We need to pay them better, and provide continuing education for them. They should have adequate pay and benefits and opportunities sufficient to offset any abuse they take in their jobs, so they think twice before breaking a rule.
5. We need to modify some of these proposed laws so that officers whose body comers are examining the contours of streets, do not get turned on for about a minute or two, or malfunction, are not permitted to testify to what they saw -- sort of an exclusionary evidence rule.
6. When cops are prosecuted, judges should be brought in from different circuits or from the retirement ranks to preside over the judicial proceedings.
7. We need to work to integrate cops into our community. As first step, we need to get rid of tinted windows on their cars and when possible, closed windows. These guys also need to be trained not to use "bro" and other street slang when talking to each other.
8. We need to ban police officers carrying or using cell phones while on duty.
9. We need to require that only officers with direct knowledge who can be prosecuted for perjury write out arrest forms.
10. Whenever an arrestee claims that a police officer has taken cash or drugs from him or her, an immediately inquiry needs to be made.
11. No juvenile should be questioned without a family member present.
12. Supervisory officers called to a scene should have the authority to modify or reverse a decision made by the cop on the scene.

Anonymous said...

Don Cohn has passed away.

Anonymous said...

On this topic, here's an interesting read:

Anonymous said...

It's sad to hear about Don Cohn passing away. He was a very nice man.

Anonymous said...

I have defended lots of cop clients and the judges are not the problem. The prosecutors, especially in Broward are to blame since they never seem to prosecute for perjury.

Ok, I sat in the courtroom in dismay watching Scott Silverman not give jail to a cop convicted of molesting a woman at a traffic stop. He just gave my client the max for going to trial for DUI serious injury of a cop. Hmmmmmm.

Short of a video, we never seem to prosecute bad cops.

Anonymous said...

How many hundreds of BATT LEO cases have we seen with never a black eye, broken nose or stitches visited upon the police officer. If there are injuries, it was our clients with the black eye, broken nose or stitches. While juries "get it" the SAO office never seems to.